Pastor Bushiri’s church, The Enlightened Christian Gathering, has been accused of removing corpses of stampede victims at one of its branches across South Africa, before police arrival.
The church said its action was negligent and it has suspended one of its own following the evacuation of the three bodies. The bodies were taken to a mortuary without the presence of police on Friday.
A case of defeating the ends of justice was opened by police against Bushiri’s Enlightened Christian Gathering church.
Lawyer and church spokesman Terrance Baloyi said:
“The church is investigating why the bodies were taken to the mortuary before the police’s arrival.”
Three congregants died on Friday night and nine were injured during a stampede at the church’s gathering at the Tshwane Events Centre in Pretoria West.
“We’ve suspended the head of the church in Pretoria because of the tragedy. The prophet was shocked,” said Baloyi.
He said the church had its own emergency services and qualified nurses and doctors.
“We’re taking care of all the victims. Regarding the repatriation of the bodies, if needed, the church is ready.”
According to police, the congregation members started pushing each other to avoid a storm.
Police spokeswoman Captain Augustinah Selepe said a case of defeating the ends of justice was opened.
“Police have established that the deceased were certified dead at the premises.
“This was not reported and the bodies were removed and taken to a private mortuary.”